tv Amelia Earhart Collection at Purdue University CSPAN January 25, 2015 6:00pm-6:31pm EST
us from our behavior, from what we publish from her photographs, from our ideas, from what we buy from what we say and what we don't say. they are creating this band some like to knock the con and they are transforming us. they are repackaging us as the product or so we are the ones being sold. not only are we working for free, but then we are being sold. so it is the ultimate scam, the perfect hitchcock movie. >> tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern and pacific on c-span's q&a. each week, american history tv american artifacts tatian to museums, archives and the mayor historic places. the amelia archives hoses the world -- houses the world's largest presentation. pioeoems and letters she wrote to
her family as well as a prenuptial letter that she gave to her manager george putnam on their wedding day. amelia ehrhardt worked and was left yet for the last two years of her life and she prepared for a solo around the world flights funded by purdue. it was during this like that ehrhardt disappeared in 1937. >> "from an airplane, even the watchful purple hills could not see so well as i the stain of evening." she would have been 23 whenever she was writing these. but you can see that she has a romanticized view of the height, being able to see nature below her. when she became an aviation editor for "cosmopolitan" she would write about the beauty of flying and how she loved things like seeing the clouds up
there and the serenity of being on her own and being able to look at the beauty below. amelia earhart was an early woman pilot at a time when many women did not have careers outside of the home. she is most well remembered for having disappeared. it is still a mystery what happened to her. but i think she is also remembered because she was such a pioneer for women's rights and women's education and careers. the quality of the sexes was very important to her as well as promoting aviation as a legitimate travel option. many people were afraid to fly at that time. it was not until around 1920 when she started really thinking seriously about taking flying lessons. she had to convince her family because not only was it
dangerous, it was expensive and they did not have the money to allow her to do that. she started taking jobs so she could pay for her own lessons. one of the requirements her father had was that she take lessons from a woman pilot. it took her longer to locate a woman pilot to give her instruction. eventually she found nita. she was the first to take her up and planes and start to teach her. if you read things from her perspective, amelia was horrible because she would daydream in the air, she was loving the beauty and the height and the excitement and was not paying attention to the technical think she needed to know should something go wrong with the plane. today, you are in the purdue university's library. archives and special collections. we will be looking at items from the collection of amelia earhart. amelia earhart was married to george palmer putnam. she met him in 1928. george putnam was a big promoter and publisher and he had gotten the rights to publish a biography of charles lindbergh.
charles lindbergh became the first person to fly solo across the atlantic in 1931. in the 1920's, charles lindbergh was a huge rockstar. they wanted to have a woman do similar things, like fly across the ocean. at the time, there were several women pilots who wanted to be the first to do this. george was looking for any woman he could find who had a pilots license and was articulate would be a good spokesperson and was attractive. he contacted amelia at the house where she was working as a social worker. he interviewed her. her first impressions of him were that he was horrible and pushy and arrogant, which is interesting since they eventually married. he thought she was the perfect person to promote as the first woman across the atlantic. he did not explain at that time
amelia was not going to pilot the plane. when amelia signed on to this adventure, it is referred to the friendship flight because friendship was the name of the plane, a million was aware of the risks of this kind of light because it's a long-range flight. a lot of things could go wrong with the plane with weather conditions, any number of things. she wrote these two letters that she referred to as popping off letters. she met this as if in i die and these letters are read by my family. she wrote one to her mother and one to her father. this one i'm going to show was when she wrote to her father. dearest dad, it was worth it. you know that. i have no faith we will meet anywhere again, but i wish we might. goodbye and good luck to you. some people have interpreted that as your daughter, but she liked to play with words. i think she was using it in the sense of doting as well as daughter. she and her mother argued a lot. they did have a close loving
relationship but her mother was very irresponsible with finances. that irritated amelia. she was constantly trying to bail the family out in that area. her father was irresponsible with finances, but he was very charming and that covered a lot of things. he was an alcoholic, which is why amelia avoided all stimulants. she did not drink alcohol or smoke or do drugs. she was adamant she did not want to have any sort of stimulants consumed. this is a folder of pilot licenses that belonged to amelia. most of them do not have photographs on them. this is one of my favorites because it does have a picture of her it has her signature on it. it tells some interesting things about her personality. she is very idolized and a hero
for me as well. she did have some faults and one of them was she was very reluctant to grow old. her mother, her grandmother and several of the women in her family had lived until their 80's and 90's and above. she was very aware of how much the elderly struggle. it was always on her mind when she was writing about personal matters. at some point, she began lying about her age. on this license here, it asks for her age. you can see this license is dated 1930 and she said that she is 31. as of this time, she would have been about to turn 33 in july. so she is already lying by at least one year here. not that it matters. she had such a youthful appearance anyway. the other interesting thing about this, we get a sense of her coloring from her description of her hair and her eyes. she was tall and thin. you can see that here as well.
she weighed 118 pounds and was five feet eight inches high. this is a compact. it had a place for powder here. you can see she used all the powder. it had a place for rouge, which still has the plastic on it. one of the things amelia prided herself on was she was always camera ready. in the early years of flying her plane, she would often have crashes and someone from a newspaper would drive by and ask if they could take her picture. famously, she said to her flying coach one time, we have to always be ready for the cameras. right after crashing a plane she brings out a compact and puts powder on her nose. it was practical. she had fair skin and the sun would burn her skin if she did not wear powder. i think it is so fascinating that she did not use the rouge side. if you look at images of her
photographs or images of her in the newspaper, sometimes it looks like she was wearing makeup. usually what happened was the people who were producing the newspaper would draw over her eyes and filling her lips to make it look like she was wearing makeup. she rarely wore it. we do have a few portrait shots where it looks like she might have a little on. but that is very unusual. this will compact tells that story. this is a famous document that amelia wrote the morning of her
wedding to george putnam. according to several accounts of people who knew the couple george putnam had proposed to amelia multiple times and she had turned him down. i don't remember at what point she eventually agreed but she clearly did it with much hesitation. it says, "dear g.p.p." they called each other by their initials. she calls him g.p.p. "there are things we have talked over before, most of them. you must know again, my reluctance to marry. my feeling that i shatter thereby chances to work, which means most of me. i feel the move now as foolish as anything i could ever do. i know there is compensation but have no heart to look ahead. on our life together, i want you to understand i shall not hold you to any medieval code of faithfulness to me. nor shall i consider myself so bound to you. if we can be honest about affections for others which may come to either of us difficulties of such situations may be avoided. please let us not interfere with the others work or play nor let
the world see our private joys or disagreements. in this connection, i may have to keep someplace apart where i may retreat from an even attractive cage. i must exactly cruel promise. that is you will let me go in one year if we find no happiness together. i will try to do my best in every way and give you fully of that part of myself you know and seem to want." this is a letter she presented to her fiance without any words and he read it and then nodded and agreed to it and they went forward with their marriage. the things in this letter are extremely telling about her personality, her concerns about marriage and really about how important her career was to her and her concerns she would have
to give that up. the other interesting piece is something feminists find particularly fascinating is this is 1931 and this woman is saying to her about to be husband that she does not expect him to be faithful and he should not expect her to be faithful either and she thinks it foolish to get married. it is interesting to think about because it makes you wonder what made her go ahead and marry him. as her promoter, manager, and publisher, he was promoting her constantly. it could be that this was something he felt was critical to their continuing relationship. it is not really known why she went ahead and married him. there have been many people who have speculated that they had a manager relationship, there was not a real love there. what is interesting is you can tell from looking in the collection that is not true because she did write love
letters to him. she had various affectionate names she would call him. there are accounts from his side of the family where there were people who would see them together being very loving. it is just that they were just extremely private, especially amelia. after amelia made the friendship flight, she felt she did not really achieve all of the accolades in a way that was true to her. she became instantly famous. she was on newspapers. there were huge parades in her honor. everyone knew the name amelia earhart. she did not feel she deserved all those accolades because she was a passenger on the plane. she did not feel like her skills were needed. a few years later, she decided she wanted to make a solo atlantic flight completely on her own. she would be the only person on the plane. what is interesting about that is there are actual documents in the collection where it talks about how it would be smarter to fly with a mechanic or a
navigator. but she knew if she did that the media would say that she did not fly the plane. she decided to take that risk and be the only person in the plane. and in 1932, she did fly her plane solo across the atlantic ocean. i said earlier amelia was not the worlds's best women's pilot and she certainly was not as skilled technically as aviation as many other pilots at the time. but she was very driven, cool under pressure, courageous, and she loved to fly. those things worked in her favor because on this flight in 1932 because a lot of things went wrong on the plane. we would not know that if she had not kept this notebook. this little notebook was written by her during the actual flight. it is all in pencil, which is difficult to read. she is talking here about her times, whenever she was leaving for the flight.
but the piece i find the most fascinating is, first of all she starts talking about flying through a storm. at this point in the journey she is 13 hours on the way. she says if anyone finds the wreck, know that the non-success was caused by my getting lost in a storm for an hour and then the exhaust manifold burned out. she thought at this point that she was probably going to die. she is referring to -- leaving a note for anyone who finds the wreckage of the plane. amelia published a book about this, the account of this flight, after she successfully landed. she talks about not only did she have this fire aboard the plane, but there was gasoline running down the back of her neck and all sorts of things were going wrong with her measurements.
she could not tell how high or low she was flying. if she flew too low, she would be close to the water and risk going down there. if she flew too high, it was difficult to see. the conditions could cause ice on the wings and so forth. she was trying to figure out how high she should be flying because her gauges were not telling her what she would do the mesh should do. and then dealing with this flame coming on the plane while she is trying to pilot it 13 hours into what became a 17.5 hour flight, she would have been quite fatigued at that point. i think it tells a lot about her strength of character and her courage and determination that she pulls out this notebook and is writing this as things are happening on the plane because she clearly thought she might die at that point. in 1934, amelia was speaking at
a conference in new york about women's careers. the president of purdue university was at the same conference. he heard her speech and was inspired to invite her to give a lecture at purdue, which she did later that year. following that, edward elliott approached amelia about some sort of position she might have at university to help encourage women students. as well as perhaps drawing new women students to purdue. the idea of how to educate women was very much on edward elliott's mind at the time. this was following the 20's when women had gained suffrage. they were starting to come to universities more. it was not clear what universities needed to do to support them. edward elliott approached amelia earhart and asked if he could meet with her and her husband
about something she might do at purdue. they got to talking over a meal. it was suggested that she serve as a career counselor for the women students, which worked perfectly for amelia because she felt strongly that women should have careers. all the way up until world war ii, it was unheard of for a woman after graduating college to pursue a career if she married. one of amelia's main goals was to encourage the women students that they could still marry but should also pursue their own dreams as people in professions or whatever else they wanted to do and not set that aside as an outcome of getting married. when edward elliott brought amelia to purdue, one of the first things she did was send out a questionnaire to the women students. one of the first questions is, are you planning to seek employment after you leave college? yes, no, or undecided. if you are planning to work, what is your reason for doing so? the answer she gives here, clearly things she wants the women to consider. such as economic necessities the family expects it, to attain personal independence, to secure luxuries that could not otherwise be had, to have
something to do, to achieve professional success, to have the mental stimulus of accomplishing something. these are clearly answers she is providing to the women as too things they should think about and not give up on. things that would keep them busy and engaged and feeling a sense of pride and independent enough to support some things they might want to do and not just rely on income from their husband. this is one of amelia earhart's flight helmets. it is just a leather helmet with strap underneath her chin here. this is the front of it. she did have a few different helmets throughout her aviation career. but this is the one that came to us directly from her husband after she disappeared. we know she wore this on several of her important flights. it has been loaned to museums several times throughout the years. she was on the faculty from 1935 until the year she disappeared, 1937.
what a lot of people don't realize is she would really only stay on campus a few weeks, a few months out of the year. she would come during each semester and be on campus for a month or two. after amelia had been here for a year or so, the trustees and the president of the university asked her what they could do for her and she said she had always dreamed of a plane that could take her around world. she wanted a plane that was faster, have more endurance, could fly longer ranges. the purdue research foundation agreed that they would provide a fund for amelia earhart's aeronautical research. the catch was she could use the plane for around the world flight, which was what she wanted to do. but the plane would also be intended to be used for research purposes. she decided she wanted to make the around the world flight a
little earlier than originally planned. she began seriously planning for that around the end of 1936. she worked with an expert on navigation who charted out the route. once she had the plane here, she parked it in hangar one of the purdue airport. it would stay there unless she was flying in it. the goal always was after her world flight, she would bring the plane back and it would be used for teaching and research at university. when amelia left for that final flight, which her goal was to circumnavigate at the equator. even though someone had already done a world flight, she would be the first to do it at its longest distance. she started that flight and made it as far as hawaii and was about to take off to go to the island when her plane ground
looped. that means at take off something happened where she allowed one of the wings to dip or something went wrong and the plane swerved and crashed. it caused damage to the front of the plane and the landing gear. she works with purdue to get the plane sent back to lockheed. to be repaired. by the time the plane was repaired, she wanted to reverse her route. the reason for that was the direction of the wind had changed in that time. from when she first started the fight to win she was going to started the second time. they reversed the route, which put the part about landing on the island, the most dangerous part, at the very end. there had been much discussion between her and her navigator and various other people who said it would be difficult to
find the island. it is only one mile wide. it is uninhabited. it has large birds. a lot of things that can go wrong. she decided she wanted to do it anyway because it was close to the equator. what happened was she disappeared on route to the island. had that happened at the beginning of the journey, it is possible she would not have been as tired or would have felt better prepared. but different things were going wrong. she was always very concerned about having too much weight on the plane. at one of her stops, she and her navigator were taking anything nonessential off the plane. some of the things they removed were the direction finder which would have helped her find the island easier. the other thing going wrong was
her radio communications. she never fully established with the coast guard monitoring her journey because they knew how difficult it would be to reach. they never had a good read on what frequency they were going to communicate. they had set a couple of different ones but could never connect to each other. they could hear her, but she could not hear them. basically what happened was the coast guard is monitoring it. they have ships nearby to help put out smoke and direct her. at some point, they hear the sound of her plane. she is that close. for whatever reason, she passed it or had been parallel to it and kept going. at some point, she ran out of fuel. it is not known if she crashed on one of the islands around there or her plane went down in the ocean. but she clearly did not make it back to purdue and neither did the plane. after that disappearance, there was a lot of conjecture about
did she survive. people wanted her to have survived because they loved amelia. she seemed kind of immortal in some ways. it was hard for people like her mother to accept that she was really dead. it was hard for george putnam to accept that. a couple of years later, they finally went to court and had her legally declared that. he contacted the purdue president and asked if the university would like these things. the president said yes. the bulk of our collection came to us in 1940, the year after she was declared dead in court. what is fascinating as there is there is a part two to the story that came much later. unbeknownst to researchers or biographers for years, there were some very private documents that were kept by putnam and his descendents.
those included things like the love letters she wrote to him, the poem she wrote when she was younger, their marriage license, the premarital agreement. all the things that told the personal side of her and her marriage. it was not until 2002 when the granddaughter of george putnam approached the university about donating this small but clearly significant collection in terms of understanding amelia and her marriage. that is one reason that biographers have argued that they had this manager-managee relationship because they did not have access to further prove that there was more there. sally putnam chapman gave the bulk of the personal things that came to the rest of the collection. now researchers can see more about what her personal life was really like. i think the significance of having this collection at purdue is that it not only tells the story of amelia's relationship with
purdue but also tells more about purdue's history in a sense that purdue has always had a strong focus on engineering and has graduated many pilots and many astronauts. the history of flight and space is huge at purdue. amelia came to purdue, she talked to women students and encouraged them to pursue careers and that whole story is tied up with purdue because of the research foundation's support for what became her final flight. the fact that she disappeared and she was still on the faculty at purdue, the fact that the plane she disappeared in was purchased by purdue, it is significant to have the collection here because this was a significant part of her life. it was only two years, but it was the final two years and a time when she was pursuing the things she wanted to do.
>> monday night on "the communicators" fcc commissioner on net neutrality and key issues facing the federal communications commission in 2015. >> i believe the bipartisan consensus that is been in place for two decades has served us pretty well. the clinton fcc in 1998 decided the internet would be an information service. it was chairman of both political parties, chairman canard, martin and powell who recognize that light touch regulation was the best way to incentivize broadband deployment. but as you know the debate has taken a turn starting with the
president's announcement in december. we now stand poised to consider what is called title ii or common carrier regulation. that heavy-handed regulation develops would be a tremendous mistake for the american consumer. >> monday night at 8:00 eastern on "the communicators" on c-span2. >> you are watching american history tv. 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span 3. follow us on twitter at c-span history for information on our schedule, upcoming programs, and to keep up with the latest history news. >> up next on american history tv, robyn muncy author of " relentless reformer, josephine roche and progressivism". she talks about roche's advocate for social welfare. and the assistant secretary of the treasury under fdr,w e where
she works on social security. her achievements were viewed as an anomaly but have been recognized as gender breakthroughs. her talk is about an hour and a half. >> thank all of you for coming out on this lovely cold and rainy afternoon to partake in some intellectual exchange. it's my pleasure to introduce our speaker, robyn muncy, who is associate professor of history at the university of maryland college park. she received her phd from northwestern university and is author of three books. " engendering america," and most recently "